What is endometriosis?
- Endometriosis is a chronic gynecological condition in which endometrial cells grow outside the uterus (most often in the abdomen, but also in all other tissues and organs).
- Because these cells are sensitive to hormones, in the abdomen they behave just as they would in the uterus – they grow and bleed causing chronic pain and creation of scar tissue and adhesions.
What causes endometriosis?
- Endometriosis causes are still unknown.
- There are many theories on endometriosis creation of which the most commonly accepted one is that of retrograde menstrual flow – during the period menstrual blood does not only flow out, but also to the abdomen through the fallopian tubes.
How common is endometriosis?
- It is considered that around 10-15 percent of all women in the age between 16 to 40 have endometriosis.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
- The most common symptom is pain during
- Ovulation, menstruation and intercourse,
- Chronic pelvic pain,
- Pain when urinating or during bowel movements.
- Irregular, long and excessive bleeding.
Why does endometriosis lead to infertility?
- Scar tissue and adhesions caused by endometriosis may damage or close the fallopian tubes thus creating a physical barrier for conception.
- With unobstructed fallopian tubes endometriosis is considered to be damaging to the egg, preventing it to be fertilized.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
- If endometriotic ovarian cysts exist, your doctor will feel them or discover them using ultrasound during pelvic examination.
- Increased tumor marker (CA-125) additionally confirms endometriosis.
- If there are no ovarian cysts and endometriosis is suspected, the only way to prove those suspicions is to do magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and laparoscopy.
How is endometriosis treated?
- If the cysts are small (<4 cm) no surgery is needed, but frequent monitoring is.
- Irregular bleeding can be controlled using contraceptive pills.
- If the cysts are larger in size, the woman is infertile or having severe symptoms, endometriosis is surgically removed, usually through laparoscopy.